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Imagine you have an appointment with your ideal customer. The only constraint is that you can’t talk about your product.

Could you make the call? What would it look like?

I suppose you could talk about the weather, exchange chit-chat about the World Cup, perhaps the latest baseball games or cricket matches.

But that wouldn’t be very satisfying to you or the customer. It probably would be a very short meeting, because your ideal customer probably doesn’t like to have her time wasted.

What could you possibly talk about that would be a good use of the customer’s time?

A good start would be to talk about what the customer is most interested in talking about.

But you’d be wasting your time, and possibly be unqualified if you just spoke about any topic your customer is interested in.

You’d have to harness the discussion to talk about challenges they have about the problems you are the best in the world about solving.

But you’d be forced to talk about it from their perspective–not pitching your product features, functions, feeds, and speeds.

You’d be forced to get the customer to talk about the issues and how it impacts them and their organization. You’d have to drill down asking them to define the issues specifically. You’d probably then ask them how it impacts them. You’d immediately get into how important the issue is in the scheme of things.

You might then guide the discussion to what they’d like to change, when, and why. You’d probably follow that up by asking their goals or “what would it look like if that problem/challenge were eliminated?”

You might help them realize there might be different ways to look at or think about the issues. Or you might help them understand they may be overlooking important aspects about the problem or things to consider as they look to eliminating the problem. These, of course, wouldn’t be product/solution capabilities, these would be change and risk management issues.

Through the conversation, you would help the customer shape their thinking about their urgency in addressing the issues, the impact they of the change, you’d help them create a vision of a future state where they be moving past the problem, addressing new opportunities.

Properly executed, by the end of the meeting, the customer will be left with one question.

“How can you help me do this?”

It’s only then that your solution is relevant–in fact critical to them. At that point they will be hungry to learn how you can help them.

Think about your next critical meeting with a customer. Imagine what that meeting would look like without ever mentioning your products. Even if the customer asks you, don’t give into the temptation, shift the conversation away from the product, focusing on the customer. Develop your call plan, then execute it.

Magic happens when you do this.